July 13, 2008

I’ll be on it all night :: Girl Talk in Boulder on Friday

Gregg Gillis (aka Girl Talk) is many things: Pittsburgh native, biomedical engineering school graduate, skinny white guy with piercing blue eyes — but most relevant to you, he is a Master of Mashup with his massive throwdown shows. On Friday night, the Boulder kids (and Denver kids, and Colorado Springs kids) all packed ourselves into the Fox Theatre, pressed sweating up against each other to dance and sing along at a super-sold-out show with Mr. Gillis. He almost rocked all the cheeky unicorn backpacks, shortie tracksuits, and neon sweatbands clear off. Check the video (oh, warning – douchebag content):

I’ve said before that listening to Gillis feels like the way my brain plays music snippets all right on top of one another when I flip through an eclectic jukebox in a bar after drinking a few. It is a little disorienting but so wonderful. He clearly loves what he does, and that enthusiasm vibrates out into the crowd. It was an all-ages show so I begrudgingly kept feeling vaguely old at 28 (!) and the temperature inside on the sweltering July night must have topped the high ninety degree mark. But despite all the sweating (or because of it) this was one of the best evenings I’ve had in a long time.

What floors me about Gillis on his album –and times 10 in a live setting– is the way he mashes such unexpected songs from different eras, and they all fly so damn well. The dirty version of Khia’s “My Neck, My Back” layered in with Yael Naim’s “New Soul”? Surprisingly flawless. A closing moment of communal epiphany with arms interlaced to Journey’s “Faithfully” right in there with “Pop, Lock & Drop It”? Sweeet.

My new friend Ben was commenting on how it was a little odd to be standing facing a stage waiting for a “show” and then an “encore” by a “band” that was just one guy and two laptops wrapped in plastic bags (to protect against dripping sweat?). Seconds after Gillis started his set, the floor started to undulate. One guy ran on stage which started a landslide, and soon the room and stage both were converted into one big writhing mass of people.

You think you’ve experienced the fun of Girl Talk by spinning Night Ripper at your party or Feed The Animals in your dorm room, but I gotta say that you simply have not gotten the full GT experience until you hear him work his craft live, drenched in sweat, with hundreds of your new friends. GO!

Jul 24 Commodore Ballroom – Vancouver, BC

Jul 25 Capitol Hill Block Party – Seattle, WA

Jul 26 Roseland Theater – Portland, OR

Aug 3 Lollapalooza – Chicago, IL

Aug 6 The Øya Festival – Oslo, Norway

Aug 7 Way Out West – Stockholm, Sweden

Aug 8 All Points West Festival – Jersey City, NJ

And this is still my favorite Girl Talk jam:
Bounce That – Girl Talk

[top photo credit Robert Castro – check his Flickr set for a couple pics I took as well when I borrowed his camera. My Facebook set here]

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June 23, 2008

Monday Music Roundup

Porca miseria! (That means pig misery. That’s also exemplary of the reasons why Italian profanity is one of my interests). Italy lost to Spain yesterday in the Euro 2008 quarterfinals, despite the loudest cheers of my small viewing contingent. It’s always agonizing and ultimately a bit unfulfilling to see big games come to penalty kicks, but Spain played exceptionally well and I can’t begrudge them. Much.

And if you care not for soccer, you can walk away from that last paragraph with (at minimum) a great new Italian curse, suitable for work and use around your grandma. Pig misery!

Music this week –

Perfect Games
Broken West

Last time we heard from addictively delicious Los Angeles foursome The Broken West, they were topping all kinds of best-of lists in 2007 (including mine) with their album I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On. The good news this week for fans of intelligent, robust, catchy-as-hell pop is that they are at it again. I absolutely love this song already, from the opening notes about spilling our ice cubes on the lawn, and the underlying sadness that subtly gnaws through the layers of memorable melody that I’ve been humming all day. Now or Heaven is due in September on Merge Records. [image from their recording sessions]

The Ground That We Stand On
Hawksley Workman
I got an important-looking courier package from Luxembourg this weekend, with Cartier listed as the sender. Diamonds? An exquisite watch? Nay — instead of fancy jewelry, Cartier has lavished an eclectic sampler CD of music upon me. Heck, why not. They have a new campaign/website/charity thing called “How Far Would You Go For Love?” (second base?). Other contributing artists with original tunes include folks like Lou Reed, Grand National, Phoenix, Marion Cotillard (who won an Oscar for her role as Edith Piaf), and this Canadian artist Hawksley Workman. I’d never heard of him before but this was surprisingly my immediate favorite track on the comp, with a warm voice like Sea-Change Beck and wistful autumnal lyrics. Listen to this tune, like it, and then go download the other songs (for free!!) at Cartier’s site.

Peace Like A River
(Paul Simon cover)

The folks over at Daytrotter recently posted a top-notch session with Spoon, and as those Daytrotter guys are so good at doing, they enticed Britt Daniel and Co to play a little gem of a rarity for us — this time in the form of a sandpapered Paul Simon cover. Spoon often has such a cinematic, evocative quality to everything they lay hands upon. Here they take a tune which originally ebbs with Paul Simon’s smoothness wafting in the air tonight, and push it a bit more ragged and on-the-edge, making the song simmer with a touch of pounding mania. As for an album link, how about the new reissue of Spoon’s 1998 album A Series of Sneaks on 180-gram vinyl? Yeah.

Divine Hammer (Breeders cover)
The Modifiers
Kim Deal is the bass player for The Pixies, and co-founder of The Breeders with her twin sister Kelley Deal and Throwing Muses guitarist Tanya Donelly. Deal is a formidable musical force whose creativity and innovative songwriting spirit is celebrated on a new tribute album from the excellent little American Laundromat Records. Songs of Deal’s from her time with The Breeders and The Amps are covered by a wide variety of backyard indie bands of all stripes (The Modifiers are from Boston, but the rest of the featured bands are from all over). The liner notes are by Donelly, and the whole thing was mastered by Sean Glonek (who’s worked with her ex, Frank Black). Gigantic is available now for your rocking out this summer, and if you order it from the label, they promise to ply you with “buttons, stickers, and other goodies with each order.” I can vouch for their largesse.

Play Your Part (Pt. 1)
Girl Talk
An ambush addition to this week’s roundup, Gregg Gillis (aka Girl Talk) popped in out of nowhere last week with a brand new album of schizophrenic, mile-a-minute sampling. Feed The Animals is out on his Illegal Art imprint and is another pay-what-you-want deal (but if you pay $0.00 you have to explai yourself, apparently). So come on – this song samples Temple of the Dog, Sinead O’Connor AND UGK’s “International Player’s Anthem”?! It’s akin to the way my brain plays music snippets all right on top of one another when I flip through a really eclectic jukebox in a bar after drinking a few. It feels like that; disorienting but so nice. Girl Talk hits Colorado July 11th at the Fox Theatre in Boulder (for what is sure to be an insane show), and the album will see a physical release on 9/23.

[top image obv credit Getty Images]

August 15, 2006

Let’s listen through the Night Ripper catalog

This is a free crash course in music education from the last 40 years, courtesy of Gregg Gillis, aka Girl Talk. It goes by really, really fast.

My blogger pal Bruce (of Some Velvet Blog hotness fame) came up with an idea to do a massive joint post of all the songs from the ADD-inducing, mile-a-minute mashup disc Night Ripper (previous post), which uses over a hundred original songs to make the 42 minutes of party goodness on this album. We both logged several (very, very enjoyable) hours trying to pick out as many of the original songs that were harmed in the making of this disc.

AND THEN we found the massive list already in progress from our good friend, the Wiki. I was simultaneously elated & deflated because I was having so much fun on the musical scavenger hunt myself. After being momentarily thrown off-course, we decided to finish what we could piece together on our own, checking the Wiki for reference. It’s more fun that way.

When it came to posting the songs, we didn’t post ‘em all, just our favorites or notable tracks that we thought should be included. There were some songs that I just could NOT bring myself to post. An example of this would be “My Humps” (ah, it’s in your head now) or, perhaps, 2 Live Crew’s “We Want Some Pussy” (because, from time to time, my mom reads this blog).

So for you younguns who may have never heard, say, Hall & Oates (I would say “consider yourself lucky,” others I respect would beg to differ) or for the elders who wouldn’t know Eminem from Snoop Dogg, these are the songs you can use to inform yourself — and have fun hearing how Girl Talk blends all these together in mad fun.

All the goods for songs 1-8 are on Some Velvet Blog, and 9-16 are right here. And to lessen the likelihood that we will be sharing a jail cell somewhere, please remember that these tracks are only up for a few days.

Have at it.

09. “Friday Night”
0:00 The Notorious B.I.G. – “Hypnotize
0:39 Billy Squier – “The Stroke
0:39 Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg – “Nuthin’ But a G Thang
1:19 Black Sheep – “The Choice Is Yours
1:40 Donnie Iris – “Ah Leah!
2:05 The Waitresses – “I Know What Boys Like
2:18 Lady Sovereign – “Random
2:26 Nikka Costa – “Like a Feather
2:51 TLC – “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg
2:51 Daft Punk – “Technologic
2:54 Busta Rhymes – “Touch It

10. “Hand Clap”
0:16 Sir Mix-a-Lot – “Baby Got Back
0:56 Gwen Stefani – “Hollaback Girl
1:07 The Rentals – “Friends of P

11. “Give and Go”
0:11 Hall & Oates – “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)
0:45 Sonic Youth – “Schizophrenia
1:15 Phil Collins – “Another Day in Paradise
1:45 Black Box – “Everybody, Everybody
2:14 Whispers – “Rock Steady
2:34 Seals & Crofts – “Summer Breeze

12. “Bounce That”
0:00 The Emotions – “Best Of My Love
0:10 Purple Ribbon All-Stars – “Kryptonite (I’m on It)
0:37 LCD Soundsystem – “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House
1:06 The Breeders – “Cannonball
1:14 Stevie Wonder – “My Cherie Amour
1:20 Steve Winwood – “Valerie
1:55 Britney Spears – “I’m A Slave 4 U
1:56 Wreckx-N-Effect – “Rump Shaker
2:08 Elastica – “Connection

13. “Warm It Up”
0:15 Paula Abdul – “Cold Hearted
0:29 Annie – “Heartbeat
1:13 Kansas – “Carry On Wayward Son
1:25 Boyz II Men – “Motownphilly
1:27 Kelis – “Milkshake
1:37 Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – “The Tears Of A Clown
2:00 MARRS – “Pump up the Volume

14. “Double Pump”
1:03 Madonna – “Hung Up
1:27 Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch – “Good Vibrations
1:29 Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock – “It Takes Two

15. “Overtime”
0:00 The Smashing Pumpkins – “1979
0:59 Fleetwood Mac – “Little Lies
1:19 69 Boyz – “Tootsee Roll
1:46 Folk Implosion – “Natural One
2:01 Technotronic – “Pump Up the Jam

16. “Peak Out”
0:15 Eminem & D12 – “Purple Pills
0:30 Pavement – “Cut Your Hair
0:46 Paul McCartney & Wings – “Silly Love Songs

Now you want to go download Night Ripper for your next house party, don’t you?

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July 24, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

I have been finding a lot of interesting reading on the always-packed-with-goodness Largehearted Boy blog/music news conglomerate. I recommend you browse it yourself, but the link that I thought was the most amusing recently was this description of a new game, iPod War. It’s like the old card game you played when you were seven because it was the only game you could understand (“War! My eight beats your two!”), but with iPods set to shuffle. Sounds lame a little, yes, but the way she explains it made me laugh.

You and a friend each set your iPod on shuffle, then listen to and compare what pops up. Whoever has ‘The Better Song’ gets one point. The author illustrates several vagaries to consider in judging:

-Older doesn’t always mean better. (“Yes, music was exceptionally rad from 1964-1982. Doesn’t mean a song from 1995 can’t be better.”)
-Don’t demand a win on principle. (You say: “But the Rolling Stones kick Prince’s ass!”) Each song should be evaluated on its own merit. (I say: “While The Stones are an important part of music history, there are lots of Stones songs that are mediocre/sucky and some Prince songs that fucking rule.”).
-Counting Crows never wins.
-If neither person will concede the win, “Vietnam” is declared (both sides claim a win, but nobody really won).

Even though, clearly, sometimes the Counting Crows DO win, I applaud her creativity. A simple little game for the music nerds out there, to entertain yourself for a trip on the tube or a really boring homeroom class.

Onto my random musical selection for this week, for your enjoyment.

Michael Stipe & Rain Phoenix
I’ve been on a bit of an R.E.M. kick lately after making a mix up for a friend who was severely lacking in the Athens, Georgia college band department. Amidst my sifting, I rediscovered this poppy little song from the soundtrack of the 1998 film of the same name by Welcome to the Dollhouse director Todd Solondz. The song is written by Eytan Mirsky, and it plays over the ending credits. Who knew Rain Phoenix could sing? Those multi-talented Phoenixes.

Bounce That
Girl Talk
This looks horrifying, but I cannot defy the inexorable and unexpected party power of this fantastic song. If you are able to listen to this guilty pleasure without moving some piece of yourself (be it a tapped toe, a bouncing chin, a shakin’ rear end) then I will personally salute you in disbelief. The inexplicably awful-named Girl Talk (aka Greg Gillis) has made “the ADD-afflicted’s album of the year” with Night Ripper, which throws together literally hundreds of recognizable hooks from popular songs of the past 40 years in an extremely pleasurable blend. It has been burning up the blogs (especially after Pitchfork gave it an 8.4). I hear everything from the Breeders to Elastica to Van Halen, Smashing Pumpkins, Temptations — come on. It looks like a really bad idea, but I swear it’s not. Download it immediately.

Mine Ain’t Yours
Lions In The Street
Magnet Magazine said of these guys, “What the Stones were, what the Dandy Warhols should’ve been” — and they are spot-on. Lions In The Street (who borrow their name from a Doors lyric) have released a sloppy & bluesy free EP on their website, I recommend snagging these five songs and adding them to your collection. They’ re embarking on their first US tour this summer/fall – in the past they’ve opened for Kings of Leon, JET, Ambulance LTD, and The Zutons. Swaggering & rollicking stuff.

Tell Me
This new one from L.A.-based retro-rock outfit Rooney was posted on their website last week as a little sample of their sophomore album, due out Fall 2006. We’ve got some serious ’70s arena rock goin’ on here – sounds like the kid from The Redwalls fronting Queen. Anthemic and fun, and I do like it, but I’m still trying to assimilate the fact that they’re touring with Kelly Clarkson this summer. What?

Atlantic City/Murray
Pete Yorn
This one is a nod to the fact that mere hours from now I will be heading to see Mr. Yorn himself — first to the in-store at the Twist ‘N’ Shout, then off to the sold-out show at the Walnut Room.I am uber looking forward to it, it will be the first time I’ve seen him live. This track is a standout from his excellent double-disc Live From New Jersey (2004), blending together some Springsteen with a Yorn original. The subject matter fits, the transition is seamless. If you don’t have any other Yorn stuff and want a good introduction, I recommend the live CD, and remember his new disc Nightcrawler comes out August 29.

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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